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Australia 2013
Directed by
Nathan Hill
90 minutes
Rated MA

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3.5 stars

Model Behaviour

Synopsis: A detective, Jordan Rhodes (Nathan Hilll), hunts a serial killer targeting the Melbourne fashion and modelling industry.

If you’ve seen and enjoyed Tommy Wiseau’s cult film, The Room, then you really should see Nathan Hill’s Model Behaviour. There are plenty of films that for one reason or another don’t cut it and end up on the funeral pyre of film history.  Then there are the rare ones that so completely miss their mark that they morph into delicious parodies of the very thing they set out to be.  The mark here is the neo-noir thriller, a hot bed of sleaze, sexualized violence and rough justice set against the backdrop of the dog-eat-dog world of the fashion industry. Well that is presumably what writer and originally-to-be director, Nick Levy, intended but what we end up getting, possibly unintentionally, is a hilariously badly-executed adult pantomime version of the same. ( I say “possibly” because at times the film seems so pointedly inept as to suggest that the whole thing is a gigantic joke. If this is what was intended then Model Behaviour is a marvel of tongue-in-cheek irony).

The key ingredients of this kind of achievement appear to be a complete dedication to the task in hand and a flagrantly inadequate budget.  With no money to hire good people you end up using anyone who will work for free or close to it (which here applies to just about everyone in front of or behind the camera), or doing it yourself (Mr Hill directs and stars), and compromising on every choice that might preserve your original vision (“No fake blood? Let’s use beetroot juice instead”;  “Those lines came out all wrong. Keep the camera rolling”; “You can see a lapel mike in that shot. We haven’t got time to cut around it. Leave it in”, and so on, and so on). Ed Wood is the icon of this style of film-making but Mr Hill is his natural heir.

When it comes to filmic faux pas Model Behaviour is not just a film that keeps on giving but one that gives more as it goes along, the cliché-packed dialogue and the clumsily-executed action scenes delivered by a consistently ham-fisted cast providing no end of perverse delights. Whilst Mr Hill gives us some gems of over-emoting, my personal favourite would have to be John McCullough’s Captain Whitten who periodically appears to announce an impending “media shit storm” and let us know how many people and how far he has them  “up his arse”, before stumping off camera glowering furiously. For sheer lack of skill Tony Markulin as a slob fashion magazine publisher takes the cake, although Ruben Francis as an academic specialist in serial killer psychology fumbles his lines with the best of them (casting a dwarf is perhaps an interestingly inclusive choice but then why would you shoot from his POV?).  

Whichever way you look at it, intentionally parodic or not, one has to give Mr Hill credit for his wry sense of humour. If you share that sensibility then check out his film soon. It's a rare treat.




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